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Put Your Best Foot Forward: BLUF Presentations

We’ve talked much about how effective presentations rely on time-tested and expert-recommended ways, techniques, and structures.

However, we still get questions on whether there could be an easier, simpler way to plan your slides. There is one such thing: the BLUF Model.

Keeping It Short and Simple

BLUF is an acronym often used in communication. It stands for “Bottom-Line Up Front.” The BLUF model’s main purpose is to keep things clear and concise. It sets your best foot forward right out of the gate, putting the most vital parts of your talk into your introduction.

Here, all the conclusions, recommendations, and sometimes even the call-to-action is presented in the very beginning. All of the supporting information is kept to a minimum and placed after. According to McMillion Leadership Associates president, Mark McMillion, this approach drives the pitch straight to the point, making things more streamlined and economical.

Having a cohesive story or adjective tension can build interest. However, there are some instances when you just need to roll in and say what you need to say. Afterwards, simply reap the rewards of a job well done.

Where What Works

If you’re giving a presentation just to keep your bosses updated on pending or ongoing work, using the BLUF model lets you do it quickly and efficiently.

This approach is also ideal to use with strong USP’s (Unique Selling Propositions). This is the perfect structure especially if you’re confident about what you’re trying to sell. It fits in occasions where you know you only have a short amount of time to pitch.

With this, there’s no need for narratives, stories, build-ups, or any of the other fancy skills. If you expect to be done quickly, then why bother prepping your audience for a long haul? Instead, use this format to get right down to the core message and the key benefits.

Mismatches

This doesn’t mean that we should start all of our decks from scratch. Presentations needing more time might be better suited with your standard presentation fare.

To engage and prepare your audience for a lot of necessary information, data, and arguments, a narrative structure will do. The standards are there for a reason. For most occasions, they work brilliantly – acting as all-around solutions for a wide array of visual communication problems.

You need a tried and tested framework to make your message flow if you have lot of details and data to explain.

Conclusion

Most of the time, you’ll still need a well-planned and designed deck. It’s still worth considering alternate ways of designing your PowerPoints, including the BLUF Model.

It keeps your pitch simple and straight to the point, putting all the information you need right at the beginning instead of wasting time building up to your big reveal.

However, the BLUF method isn’t always the answer to your presentation problems. There are times when a narrative structure would work better. Test for yourself whether the BLUF method works for your particular presentation or not. This increases your flexibility and gives you an extra ace in the hole for when you might need it.

 

References

Angeles, Sara. “36 Ways to Make a Killer Business Presentation.” Business News Daily. June 27, 2014.
Advertisers’ PowerPoint Visual Design Tips: Calls to Action.SlideGenius, Inc. May 28, 2015.
BLUFing Your Communication at Work.The Managers Resource Handbook. February 17, 2014.

 

Featured Image: “Best Foot Forward” by Jason Rogers on flickr.com

About SlideGenius

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